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Understanding options for same-sex couples

Same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples may consider a domestic partnership as an alternative to traditional marriage. Domestic partnerships can be dissolved through a dissolution process that has some similarities to a traditional divorce but can have its own challenges. As a result, it is important for domestic partners seeking to dissolve their domestic partnership to understand the dissolution process.

In addition to domestic partnerships, the option of traditional marriage is available to all couples because same-sex marriage is now legal in California and has been ruled legal throughout the United States. Whether the couple is ending a traditional marriage through the divorce process, dissolving a domestic partnership or legally separating, couples can face challenges associated with the divorce or dissolution process including the need for help with property division, spousal or partner support, child support and child custody and visitation.

Additional types of non-traditional relationships, such as relationships that include an express or implied agreement that may be enforceable between the couple, may create additional complexities for couples seeking to end a relationship. Same-sex couples in a domestic partnership or traditional marriage may also face complexities associated with child custody given the nature of those biological and non-biological relationships.

Given the number of different types of relationships and family structures, knowledge concerning how the family law process can meet the needs of individualized circumstances is important. It is also helpful to note that while the dissolution process is available to couples, options such as alternative dispute resolution and collaborative divorce are also available to aid in an amicable resolution of those processes.

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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